Sarthe is a French department of Pays de la Loire in the central part of the country on the Atlantic Ocean.
Sarthe is a department in west central France, named after the Sarthe River and covering an area of 2,396 square miles with a population of 529,900.
From east to west and from north to south, Sarthe has a diversity of wonderful and protected landscapes. Great forested estates, winding rivers and lakes, pastoral landscapes- from the Mancelles Alps to the vineyards of the Loir Valley, Sarthe offers a variety of countryside sides.
The principal and the most attractive towns are: Le Mans, La Fleche, Mamers, Asnieres-sur-Vegre and Sable sur Sarthe.
Sarthe’s rural attractions and historical gems are often overshadowed by the association of its capital, Le Mans, with motor sports. However, Le Mans is also a beautiful character old town which contains the best-preserved Gallo-Roman city walls outside Rome and a cathedral St Julien. Old Le Mans, the “Cite Plantagenet” is actually one of the most beautiful testimonies of 2000 years of French History.
Asnieres-sur-Vegre is often called the most beautiful village in Sarthe. A chateau, sixteenth and seventeenth houses, a thirteenth century Court of Justice, watermills, an ancient bridge, the parish church with its eleventh and fourteenth century wall paintings, these are some of the things which make up this pretty village.
There are many superb castles to visit in the Sarthe. Not far from Fleche the beautiful 15-18th century Château de Bazouges-sur-le-Loir on the banks of the Loir has Italianate gardens. The 15th-18th century Château de Montmirail was once the scene of a tentative reconciliation between Henry II and Thomas a Becket. North of Le Mans, the Donjon de Ballon is the keep of the oldest fortress defending the Maine, dating from the 12-15th centuries with its Renaissance botanic garden and collection of old roses and a panoramic view of the forests of Maine Normandie and many many more.
It’s a home to the famous 24 hour car race and professional road bicycle racing. However, apart from that there are many more attractions.
From the gentle Sarthe Valley to the mountains of Haute Sarthe, all contribute to creating an immense playground for outdoor activities. The most popular are: horse riding, fishing, hunting, hiking, golfing, mountain biking, sailing, canoeing, boating, windsurfing, rock climbing or bungee jumping.
There is also an aero club, thermal bathhouse, several animal parks and zoos, aqua fun swimming pools and theme parks.
It also hosts many cultural events like the festival de l’Epau, Europa Jazz or Baroque music de Sable-sur-Sarthe.
Sarthe has acquired its reputation because of all restaurateurs insistent on using quality, flavoursome and local products. The most popular products and dishes are : marmite sarthoise, a chicken stew made with poultry farm de Loue, sweet sables, duck filet, Rillettes du Mans (with pork meat), Les Rillons (traditional cooked meats), Les Diableries (fish dish), foie gras, not forgetting the famous cider.
Tourism office in Pays de la Loire:
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